Sunday, October 9, 2011

한국어 - Week 1 Korean 1 (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)

Welcome to my Weekly Korean Journal which chronicles my weekly activities in learning the language. The book I am using is 한국어 1 which is the Korean for Foreigners course book of the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. It would be nice if you could buy a copy of the book so we can study together and you could have access to the vocabulary lists and dialogues included in the CD. I had my copy shipped from Seoul and I honestly have no idea how you are going to get yours, hahaha. I am NOT going to document nor teach how to read and write Hangeul. It’s an easy script. You could learn it in an hour. I guess you have that one covered. I will not be putting Romanized pronunciations either. This is not a Korean language learning program and I am no teacher. This is a personalized journal of my Korean language journey, and the target audience would be other students of Korean, beginners if possible. If you are an advanced learner, kindly give us tips and correct some of the errors we are bound to make. Your feedback is important to us since books could not teach all. Let’s start! But before we do please watch the video after or while reading, it’s meant to complement the content of this blog article. If you watch just the video and not read, you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. The book has 35 chapters. I only study Monday to Friday, two days each for lessons 1 - 15 and three days each for lessons 16 - 35 which means it will take us 90 days or 18 weeks to finish the whole book. Target end date is February 3, 2012.

MONDAY: Chapter One - 안녕하세요?
Today I read two pages of Chapter One which includes the common greeting always learned first by students which is 안녕하세요? the answer to which is also 안녕하세요. There are no other set phrases taught in Chapter One. As for grammar rules we are introduced to the linking verb 이다 which means “to be” and is conjugated in the formal register as -입니다. I first found out about this sentence construction while watching Princess Hours () since the setting was almost always at the palace and everyone was talking in formal Korean. You also hear a lot of this in the news. If you want to ask a question, the -입니다 becomes -입니까? So, how do you use it? Just plug it to the noun. For example, an umbrella in Korean is 우산 and to say that “It is an umbrella” you just connect the noun to the ending: 우산입니다. To ask if “Is it an umbrella?” just plug the noun to the question ending: 우산입니까? This also works for names. If someone asks me: “Alfred입니까?” My answer would be , Alfred입니다.” You should not pause while saying the noun and the ending. Treat them as one word. 

TUESDAY: Chapter One - 안녕하세요?
 Today was all about questions but it was mostly focused on 무엇 which means “what”. Add the -입니까 ending and a question mark and you’ve got무엇입니까? “What is it?” which is very useful when snooping around. There is a change in pronunciation, just see the video for that. The other question words are as follows: 누구 “who” 어디 “where” 언제 “when” 오ㅐ “why” (I haven’t figured out yet which keys to press to link those vowels) and 어떻게 “how”. The exercises are simple. You just ask what the particular item in the picture is and answer it yourself. I do this on the video.

WEDNESDAY: Chapter Two - 누구입니까
There are three new grammar items to be learned but let us focus first on the “this/that/that” trio which in Korean are represented by the particles //. You just plug any of these three as a prefix to the noun and you are good to go. You could do it while pointing at something to give more clues! If the first question we’ve learned was for what, the question word that gets the spotlight this time is 누구 “who” which follows the same pattern. Just plug in -입니까 for a question. 누구입니까 and a question mark means “Who is it?” The answer would be the person’s name plugged to -입니다. What’s the difference between 누구입니까 and “Alfred입니까?” The first one is a direct question on who I am. The second one is more of a confirmation. The person asking that question already has an idea who I am but is not quite sure.

THURSDAY: Chapter Two - 누구입니까?
What I learned today was how to distinguish between / (subject modifier) and / (topic marker). It is kind of hard to explain this but let me try my best. There is a pair for each because you plug them to the end of words again. This happens a lot in Korean. The first one of each pair is used for words ending with consonants. The second one for each pair is for words ending in vowels. Let’s turn to examples for better understanding. Let’s bring back Monday’s umbrella 우산. It ends with a consonant so it would either be 우산이 or 우산은. You say 우산이 when the umbrella is being mentioned in the conversation for the first time. You say 우산은 when it already exists in the universe of your conversation beforehand, meaning both of you already have an idea what umbrella is being talked about. If the noun ends in a vowel, like 모자 it would either be 모자가 or 모자는. It is a bit difficult but we have a lot of time to familiarize ourselves with this. Particles are important in Korean to mark which is which. Take for example a “person” 사람 and “rice” with the verb “to eat” 먹다. We know from context that it is the person who eats the rice and not the other way around. It’s obvious. But let us say that an alien lands here and in their planet rice is their enemy, some sort of zombie rice. It’s eat or be eaten. Now you have to distinguish which is doing the eating. By plugging in any of the four particles learned today, you would be identifying who is the subject, the doer of the action. Let’s call the alien a 사람 because I don’t know what aliens are called in Korean. If we say, 사람이밥먹습니다 it would be clear that the 사람 is doing the eating. If we turn it around밥이사람이먹습니다suddenly the rice is eating the person, or the alien. Weird world. We need to plug another ending to whichever is being eaten to denote a direct object, but let’s reserve that for another lesson. I do pronunciation drills in the video!

FRIDAY: Chapter Three - 가족 사신입니다?
This is a new lesson and it is all about the family. I read the dialogue out loud in the video. Aside from that the focus of today’s lesson has been on the first person possessive pronoun / which both mean “my” but the first one is more formal than the next. You put them before the noun so that “my umbrella” would be 제우산 or 내우산 depending on how polite you would like to be at the moment. Another grammar point would be the mutation of “who” 누구 when followed by the subject particle where it becomes 누가  totally getting rid of the second syllable. Shortcut! Example? If you are looking at a family photo and you would like to ask “Who is the father?” you would say 누가아버지입니까? There’s nothing in there which we have not learned so far. Let’s dissect: 누가 is “Who” 아버지 is “father” and 입니까 is the question form of the linking verb.

See you next weekend! For next week I would be covering the second half of lesson three until lesson five. We can do this guys! AJA! The goal is to pass the lowest level of TOPIK in April 2012! =)

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